The trumpet thing

Yesterday evening Joe and I were scheduled to go down to the ‘Shoe, because Christmas in Toronto (for us) wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t go to the Skydiggers Christmas party. Still, last night I was hard pressed to get myself out of the house. I had knitting, I was thinking I wasn’t going to finish on time, somebody has to wrap all this, maybe there be one more batch of cookies? Could I really take the time off to go to a concert? I was torn, until one thing made up my mind.

The front man for the Skydiggers happens to be our friend Andy Maize. Andy is, like all the guys in the band, consistently a fine example of humanity, but that isn’t what prompted me to go.

What it is, is that Andy plays the trumpet sometimes, and it fills me with this incredible, impossible joy that almost moves me to tears.

It isn’t that it’s so beautiful…not in the traditional way, because frankly, Andy’s trumpet playing is, well…one of the guys in the band last night called it “spontaneous”. Andy isn’t a trumpet player, he’s a guy who plays a little trumpet, the same way that I play a little piano and maybe you can play a few chords on the guitar. It is not the quality of the music he makes that moves me. Frankly, it’s that Andy isn’t that great, he knows he isn’t that great, and in the face of all of that, he gets up and plays the thing every Christmas in front of a whole bunch of people, throws his whole being into doing it and just being himself…and he does it loudly, fully…with risk and love and chances and honesty and ….and everyone loves it best.

It’s hard to figure why. I mean, this audience is looking for excellence. The Skydiggers are fine, fine, well practiced musicians. A ticket to see the Christmas Concert ain’t cheap, and not one of them would normally be content with having a member of the band play something that was anything less than perfect. They have an incredible lead guitar, a fabulous drummer, an untouchable bassist and Andy, who sings so well that other people dream of being him. Then they have the trumpet.

Last night, when they finally played “Good King Wenceslas” and Andy reached for the trumpet, I sort of wondered what I was doing. I had so much left to do. I had so much knitting to finish, there were pressures and there was things undone and here I was hanging it all out there, wasting time to hear my buddy Andy play mediocre trumpet and somehow, despite having half knit socks, a trashed house, unwrapped gifts and a million things to do, suddenly I was really, really not wishing I was anywhere else, and I figured it out.

By the way, If you want to hear a little trumpet, spread a little joy and do some good in the world all at the same time, the Good King Wenceslas song that makes my Christmas is available for download here. It only costs 50 cents Canadian, and all profits go to the world famous Hospital For Sick Children.

As the room roared around Andy and he threw his heart and soul into quite possibly one of the only three songs he knows how to play on the thing…I got it. Why I love it, why it works, why every time Andy plays the trumpet I get that tight crazy feeling in my chest that I feel whenever something is so beautiful that it fills your soul entirely.

I poke a lot of fun at deadline knitting. There’s the hotline (877-SOS-KNIT) There’s the “IT” stories I’ve written…there is, quite frankly how demented I’ve been the last few weeks as I try to show everyone I love how much I love them by wrapping them in my wool and my time, and then there is today. There’s Andy playing the trumpet, doing his best, making a joyful noise…reaching for the good in everything, even a trumpet. Today, even though I’ve been maniacal and desperate and rushing…today I’m taking a deep breath, I’m listening to Andy step up to the mike, stand in front of hundreds of people and do the best he can with his big heart…

and I’m letting go.

Now is the time. I’m knitting now for my heart and hands. I’m going to read a story to my kids. Look out the window, check the sky for stars and snow, light a candle for those you love and miss who cannot be with you now. Don’t spoil a minute of it worrying about unfinished presents, less than perfect wrapping jobs, immolated meringues and what the right greeting for this time of year is.

Take a little time, do your best and spread some joy. Reach out, love fully and completely, and take a risk. Play the trumpet as loudly as you can.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons greetings and Peace from the Harlot house to yours.